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July 7, 2004

Shameless Corporate Plugs

As I was sitting in the movie theater watching the trailers before Spider-Man 2, the Will Smith version of I, Robot happened to be one of the ads du jour.

Rolling onto the screen was a gigantic carrier bearing a vaguely futuristic USR logo, and plenty of mentions of "U.S. Robotics."

Asimov didn't call his robot corporation that. A back-from-the-grave manufacturer of modems, on the other hand, did (and still does) call themselves that. In the theater, I wondered if USR was still dead after 3com ate them. Turns out they're not dead -- in fact, another company somehow acquired them and USR is back to some form of autonomy. If you've been around for a while, you may remember USR as the modem to have -- until 3Com bought them in the 90s and products were rebranded before disappearing completely.

A little digging through the US Patent and Trademark Office is interesting. While "U.S. Robotics" and "US Robotics" are still registered trademarks of USR, they canceled their registration of "USR" -- the omnipresent mark in the movie -- in May of this year. I, Robot comes out for release the 16th of this month.

Intriguing. Or maybe it's just intriguing because it's 11:42 and I only got 3 hours of sleep last night due to obsessing over the surgery one of my animals had today.

The question I'm left with is "How much did Hollywood pay USR to can their trademark to avoid the watchdogs?"

Posted by Colin at July 7, 2004 12:44 AM

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